Cannes gets a Fassbender 'Macbeth' suffering combat stress

Sat May 23, 2015 10:09am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Michael Fassbender is a "Macbeth" for our times, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, while Marion Cotillard is a Lady Macbeth haunted by the loss of a child, in the final competition entry screened on Saturday for the top Cannes prize.

The main Palme d'Or prize for the 68th edition of the film festival will be awarded on Sunday night.

Most critics appear to think Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "Nie Yinniang" (The Assassin), about a martial arts killer, is the most deserving.

It is followed closely by Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes's "Saul Fia" (Son of Saul) set in the Auschwitz concentration camp and American director Todd Haynes's lesbian romance "Carol" starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

The screen credits for "Macbeth" directed by Australian Justin Kurzel ("Snowtown") give fair warning that it is "based on the play by William Shakespeare".

Unlike some previous movie adaptations of one of Shakespeare's darkest plays, this unfurls a bit like a study guide version with the lines ("Out, damned spot", "screw your courage to the sticking point") retained but much dialogue cut.

What Kurzel has opted for is to open up the play as a psychodrama about the romantic relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth that is spiraling towards disaster because of the psychological trauma each has endured.

Fassbender said Kurzel had suggested in an early conversation about the film that Macbeth, shown in the midst of battle in the opening scene, has nightmares and visions of witches because of his battle scars, physical and mental.   Continued...

Cast members Marion Cotillard (R) and Michael Fassbender pose during a photocall for the film "Macbeth" in competition at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 23, 2015.         REUTERS/Yves Herman